Dentons review sparks departure of 85 lawyers and staff

Voluntary redundancies dominate as firm creates virtual UK legal team and overhauls support services


Eighty-five lawyers and staff have left Dentons’ UK, Ireland and Middle East arm following the creation of a virtual legal team and a restructuring of its business services and secretarial units.

The shake-up – part of what the firm has dubbed a ‘transformation journey’ – has led to two compulsory redundancies in the business services team and the departure of a further 83 employees, including 16 lawyers, after they opted to take voluntary redundancy packages.

The reviews began back in November. Alongside an overhaul of its business services and secretarial arms, Dentons announced the creation of a virtual UK real estate fee earning team providing corporate real estate, real estate finance, asset management and due diligence services, working alongside physically based teams. Roles in London, Milton Keynes and Glasgow were under review putting 24 office-based roles at risk, 

In the event, 16 lawyers opted for voluntary redundancy, while five more accepted alternative roles. Some 35 secretaries and 32 business services staff also opted for voluntary redundancy while six secretaries and 14 business services staff were redeployed in new roles at the firm.

The move is the latest to come out of Dentons’ ongoing shift toward remote working inspired by its Covid-19 lockdown agile working measures. 

Lisa Sewell, managing director for the UK, Ireland and Middle East, said the firm was listening to feedback from its lawyers and staff in order to create a flexible working environment best suited for the post-Covid era. 

Sewell added: “Whilst it’s always difficult saying goodbye to colleagues, we are pleased that so many are staying with us in new roles, learning new skills and that our voluntary redundancy offering meant that the number of compulsory redundancies were limited to just two. Those who are leaving us do so with our sincere thanks and gratitude for the valuable contributions they have made to our firm.”

Dentons recently announced a ‘you choose’ working location policy for its hybrid workers and is consulting around agile working in all its UK offices, including London, which will be launched in the fall when it expects office life to be back to normal. 

Last year, the firm’s virtual strategy shift saw it shutter two of its UK operations in Watford and Aberdeen, affecting 66 employees with staff being offered the chance to return to a ‘more regular office-based environment’ in the firm’s offices in Milton Keynes and Edinburgh. 

In January, Norton Rose Fulbright’s EMEA arm axed 132 employees including 19 associates and counsel following a restructuring of its business services operations. The review heavily impacted the firm’s London office, where 114 of the 132 total affected employees were based. 

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